In 1997, 27% of Australian children had current wheeze, and this is increasing by 1.4% per year. The prevalence of wheeze among adults is lower and appears to be stable. The prevalence of persistent asthma (wheezing episodes with abnormal airway function between episodes) in children has increased from 5% to 9% in the past 20 years. In adults, the prevalence is 5%-6%. Up to 80% of adults with persistent asthma have abnormal lung function. Asthma deaths in Australia have fallen 28% since peaking in 1989, but the mortality rate is still twice that of England.